The Honda Civic Type R hot hatch is open to electrified powertrains – but it would be a plug-in hybrid, not a battery-electric model.
An electric version of the current Honda Civic hatch has been ruled out – but the Type R hot hatch could make the half-step to plug in hybrid power, a senior executive has said.
Honda’s electrification efforts for the current 11th generation Civic small car range are limited to a plug-less hybrid version for the regular hatchback – however a high-power Type R plug-in hybrid is on the cards, in lieu of a full battery-electric variant.
“I wouldn’t exclude electrification,” Ko Yamamoto, technical advisor for Honda Europe, told British publication car at a European media event this week.
“We can’t do a pure-electric powertrain on this platform, but I imagine it can take up to a certain level of plug-in hybrid.”
car reports Yamamoto “did not confirm that any future Civic Type R would use this [current Civic’s] platform” – opening the door to the next Civic Type R, due after 2026 or 2027 (based on past life cycles), offering an electric option.
The soon-to-launch ‘FL5’ Civic Type R has been exempted from Honda’s move to switch all of its “mainstream” models in Europe to hybrid or electric power from this year – with the Civic, HR-V and CR-V all offered exclusively as hybrids in Europe.
However, some form of electrification may be necessary to meet emissions regulations by the time the next Type R arrives around 2027 – based on the five-year life cycle of the outgoing ‘FK8’ Type R, sold from 2017 to 2021 (inclusive).
In ruling out an electric Civic, Yamamoto has ruled out electric versions of the ZR-V small and CR-V medium SUVs, which share the Civic’s platform – as well as the next Accord, which is believed to sit on the Civic’s floorpan.
While some purists may consider a hybrid or electric Type R to be a backwards step in terms of driver engagement, Yamamoto disagrees, telling car: “Electrification is just another technical measure, like VTEC or a turbo, or multi-link suspension.
“There are certain attributes that are important for a Type R: the ultimate response, the unity between driver and machine. How that’s being achieved? That’s another story, and I’m quite sure it can be achieved with some kind of electrification.”
However, it is likely to remain front-wheel drive, rather than switch to all-wheel drive like other hot hatchbacks with similar power outputs.
“We can do four-wheel drive, of course. This platform [underpinning the 2022 Civic Type R] is also used for the four-wheel-drive CR-V [medium SUV],” said Yamamoto.
“However, I think four-wheel drive doesn’t really cope with the Type R principle. It’s not even necessarily quicker, but it is heavier.”
Some rumors suggested before launch the new Civic Type R would adopt a high-output, near-300kW plug-in hybrid system, with three electric motors and all-wheel drive.
Honda Australia does not currently offer any electric vehicles – nor is it expected to introduce any over the next 18 months. Instead, it’s focusing on hybrid versions of its new-generation models.